|Other County Histories | Civil War | 1913 Vol. 1 | 1913 Vol. 2 | 1916 | Depression ||
History of Livingston County
from The History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri. 1886
The California "Gold Fever " - First Homicide; Killing of Benj.
Collins by Joseph Slagle - Politics and Politicians - The "Know
Nothings" - Building of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad - Sketch of
the Institution of Slavery - The Political Campaigns of 1860 - After the
Election of Lincoln - The Case of Rev. J. E. Gardner.
The discovery of gold in California greatly excited the people of the West,
producing what came to be called the "gold fever." Livingston county
caught the infection in a virulent form. In the spring and summer of 1849 there
was a comparatively large emigration from the county for the new El Dorado, of
whose riches such marvelous tales were narrated, - where it was said even the
"wave of the river and the spray of the fountains were bright with the
glitter of genuine gold."
May 1, 1849, a considerable company from "the forks" left Spring
Hill for California. This company was composed of A. B. D. Martin, Gustavus
Dryden, John Dryden, W. S. Ligett, Henry Leeper, Stephen Bills, J. T. C. Boyle,
W. G. Frith, James Ligett, - Pulliam, Josiah Geo. W., Thomas A., James and J. B.
Anderson, Sam'l L. Harris, Giles McGee, William Ballinger and John McGee. At
Lone Jack, in Jackson county, the Livingston men united with others from
Chariton and formed the California Mining Company, choosing John Gilliam, of
At Vermillion creek, Kansas, cholera broke out among the gold seekers, and
three of the company died - John McGee, of Livingston, and James Ashby and
Stephen Prather, of Chariton. Here the company broke up into two parties, in one
of which were the Livingston and some from Chariton, who elected Sportsman, of
Chariton, captain. This company took the middle route, through the South Pass,
and arrived at Steep Hollow, California, September 22.
No serious trouble was experienced by Capt. Sportsman's company until the
head of Thousand Springs Valley, Nevada, was reached. Here the Indians stole 17
head of horses and mules from them one night. The men gave pursuit, followed the
thieves into the mountains, and succeeded in recovering seven horses and one
Other Livingston men from "the forks," comprising Thos. B.
Brookshier, Danl. B. Cox, Thos. Cox, Wm. Heisler, and a number of men from
Daviess, elected F. P. Peniston, of the latter county, captain, and set out
April 29, taking the northern route, and arrived at Lawson's ranch, on the upper
Sacramento, September 15.
Other Livingston county "49ers" were John Trammell, James Trammell,
and "Buena Vista" Bell, who started from "the forks" and
made the trip to the land of gold in wagons drawn by five yoke of cows. With
this outfit was one lady, the wife of James Bell. From the southern, western,
and other portions of the county went George Wolfskill, Thos. Kirk, John Kirk,
J. H. Kirk, Abe Gann, Reuben Wilburn.
In 1850 there was another emigration. Some of those who went this year were
L. D. Kirk, Andrew McCoskrie, P. M. Marlow, Wm. H. Marlow, J. M. Marlow, J. B.
Francis, Lewis M. Best, Dr. Lenox.
The fate of the Livingston county Argonauts was varied. Some were successful,
but most were not. Nearly all ultimately returned, but many again went to
"the diggings," and of these some finally returned to their old
Missouri homes. Henry Leeper was accidentally shot while bear hunting on the
Sierra Nevada mountains with Ben. Ashby. The latter fell down and his gun
slipped down the mountain side until the hammer struck a projection, when the
weapon was discharged, and the contents struck Leeper. Dr. Lenox was killed by
L. M. Best, who after a long and expensive trial was acquitted.
The first homicide in Livingston county after its organization did not occur
until April 19, 1853, when Joseph Slagle killed his brother-in-law, one Benjamin
Collins, the act being afterward decided justifiable.
Slagle, who was the owner of Slagle's mill on Medicine creek, in the
northeastern part of the county, had married Elizabeth Crawford, a daughter of
Mason Crawford and a half sister of Benjamin Collins, whose mother, being left a
widow, had married Mr. Crawford. Collins at this time lived at Quincy, Ill.,
where he was connected with a "negro show," and led a low,
disreputable life generally. He was married, but had separated from his wife,
and was regarded as a malicious, evil-disposed person, of a quarrelsome nature,
especially when intoxicated, as was frequently the case.
When Collins heard that his half sister had married Slagle he flew into a
great passion, and swore that he was coming "right over to Missouri and
kill Slagle." To some parties he swore that his sister should not live with
her husband, that he would "part them or die;" and to other parties he
swore that he would "kill Slagle on sight,'' and that he would "have
his heart's blood, anyhow," etc. This was in March, 1853, and a month later
Collins appeared at Slagle's house late one night, accompanied by Henry Gibson,
of Linn county, whom he had hired to convey him to Slagle's mill on horseback.
Slagle greeted his brother-in-law kindly, and did his best to make him
welcome. Mrs. Slagle was absent from home to remain over night, but Slagle at
once sent for her, and she returned that night. Collins did not respond to the
friendliness of his sister's husband, but seemed cold and distant, and when his
sister arrived he took her out of doors and told her that she must leave her
husband or he would kill him. That night Collins acted very violently and
menacingly, and at last Slagle drove him away with a shotgun.
Collins seemed incensed against Slagle because the latter had been twice
married before marrying his sister, and because he was somewhat older than she.
He stayed in the neighborhood a day or two, uttering threats against Slagle,
declaring he had killed his first two wives, and "he shan't live to kill my
sister;" and again he said he had come for "revenge," and he
meant to have it, "or die right here," etc. Word of Collins' threats
were sent to Slagle by Mason Crawford and others, and on one night Slagle,
Stephen Crawford and Mr. Jennings guarded Slagle's house. To Stephen Crawford,
near Quincy, Ill., a month before, Collins had declared he would have Slagle's
That night Collins stayed at Mrs. Sapp's, in the neighborhood. His relatives
and others seem to have urged him to leave the country and go to California, and
to forego his intention to kill his brother-in-law. Accordingly on Tuesday
morning, April 19, he left Mrs. Sapp's, and in company with Thomas Gilkison, who
was driving a yoke of cattle, started apparently for Chillicothe, carrying a
fiddle, an umbrella and a budget of clothing. He was unarmed. The same morning
Slagle started from home to hunt for one of his cattle that had strayed away; he
was on horseback, and carried with him his double-barreled gun. He, too, came
into the Chillicothe road and soon overtook Collins and Gilkison, who were
afoot, the latter carrying a gun. What followed the meeting was thus testified
to by Mr. Gilkison: -
We had got but a short distance from Mrs. Sapp's house till we seen Mr.
Slagle. This man that got killed remarked to me, "Will he shoot?" I
told the man that I did not think he would shoot if he met him friendly. When he
met Mr. Slagle he spoke and bid him "good morning." Mr. Slagle bid him
"good morning." Collins asked Mr. Slagle: "How do you come
on." Mr. Slagle's reply was: "Ben, my life has been at stake long
enough." As he spoke these words he cocked his gun and shot. As he did not
kill him the first shot, he shot again; the last shot killed him dead on the
On the trial it was sworn to, that immediately after the shooting Mr. Slagle
gave directions that Collins' body should he taken care of, and he seemed
greatly affected, "shedding tears" and declaring "I would not
have done it, but I had to. I would as soon have shot my own brother."
Slagle also declared that just before he fired Collins had grabbed at Gilkison's
gun, as if he intended carrying out his threat. Collins was walking in the rear
of Gilkison, and Gilkison did not see this movement.
Slagle at once surrendered himself, underwent a preliminary examination
before Squire Myers, was held to answer, and was indicted by the grand
jury within a few days (April term, 1853), but was not tried finally until the
October term of the Circuit Court, 1854, when he was acquitted, the jury
believing from the evidence, as did a majority of' the community, that he had
killed Collins from motives altogether proper and justifiable. The latter had
come into this county on Sunday, April 17, vowing he would part Slagle and his
wife or "die right here," and the following Tuesday morning he was
Mr. Slagle yet lives in the county, a respected citizen of Chillicothe.
From its organization until after the beginning of the Civil War, Livingston
county was uniformly Democratic in politics. It is believed that at every
Presidential election the Democratic party carried the county, on to 1860, and
then there was a decided majority of Democrats, aggregating the two factions.
Occasionally the Whigs elected one or more of the county officers, but this was
always due to questions of personal popularity, or some local consideration. On
the "main question," as it was considered, Livingston county was
soundly Democratic, by about 150 majority.
In 1844, and for some years both prior and subsequent thereto, the leading
Whigs of the county were Nova Zembla Johnson (elected to the Legislature in
1844), John Hudgins, Alexander Dockery, Andrew Ligett, Wm. L. Black, James A.
Black, J. W. Boyle, Judge Anselm Rowley, Wm. J. Wallace, Dawson Crews, James
Garmon, E. B. Waples, Thomas Warren, Wm. E. Pearl, J. H. B. Manning.
Some of the prominent Democrats were Esq. Francis Preston, who invariably
presided at meetings and conventions; James H. Darlington, W. Y. Slack, James
Leeper, Sr., James Leeper, Jr., Jno. L. Leeper, seven or eight of the Martins;
the three Gregorys, Nathan H. Spencer, and J. T.; Wm. O. Jennings, Thos. R.
Bryan, Joseph Cox, Geo. Munro, Dr. John Wolfskill, S. A. Alexander, Reuben
During the Know Nothing excitement, in 1855-56, the reign of the Democratic
party was seriously menaced by the new organization. In some counties the Know
Nothings were largely in the majority. The Democracy of Livingston, however,
were early on their guard, and repelled the attempts of the leaders of the new
party to make proselytes among Democrats. This was accomplished by thoroughly
organizing and disciplining the party in time. Early in the year 1856, the year
when Know Nothingism was strongest in Missouri, the Democrats of this county
girded themselves for the Presidential conflict about to open. A large mass
meeting was held at Chillicothe in February, pursuant to the following call: -
With a view of a permanent organization of the Democratic party for the
political contest of 1856, the undersigned Democrats of Livingston county would
respectfully call a mass meeting of the Democrats and all others
favorable to their creed of principles, to assemble at the court-house, in
Chillicothe, on the first Monday in February, 1856, to take such steps as may be
deemed necessary: -
David C. Austin,
Wm. C. Austin,
A N. Austin,
S. H. Austin,
Jas. L. Austin,
A J. Austin,
N. G. Bliss,
A J. Bryan,
T B. Brookshier,
Wm. H. Brookshier,
J. N. Bell,
Thomas R. Bryan,
J. W. Collins,
Andrew Craig, Jr.,
D. P. Cochran,
E. M. Claraday,
David W. Curtis,
David Y. Dale,
Hardin D. Ewers,
J. J. Eberly,
J. B. Freeman,
Wm. G. Firth,
J. A. Farrell,
Spence H. Gregory, Jr.
J. H. T. Green,
John O. Gish,
M. R. Gregory,
John T. Gudgell,
Adam Gano, Jr.,
Spence H. Gregory, Sr.
Asa H. Holcomb,
James Hicks, Jr.,
James Hicks, Sr.,
Wm. O. Jennings,
Thos. Jennings, Jr.,
Rice G. Keister,
Joseph B. Kirk,
Uriah B. Kent,
James B. Kerr,
Wm. S. Knox,
J. L. Myers,
Francis Martin, , Jr.
John M. Minnick,
H. R. Manning,
B. F. Norman,
W. C. Norman,
Wm. F. Peery,
A. E. Poulet,
J. Y. Porter,
Jas. M. Robertson,
Robt. M. Steen,
L. D. Sivic,
Danl. G. Saunders,
W. Y. Slack,
R. M. Stewart,
Clinton Van Brimmer,
Jas. M. Wood,
A. F. Walden,
T. W. Warder,
Maj. A. Wallace,
The Know Nothings assembled on Washington's birthday, February 22, pursuant
to the following notice: -
The members of the American Party, and all friends of their principles, are requested to assemble in Chillicothe on the 22d of February next, for the purpose of celebrating the birthday of the Immortal Washington, the Father of American Liberty. Able speakers will be in attendance.
The Native American, or as it was called, the "Know Nothing"
party, deserves particular mention in these pages, as at one time it was a
political organization very formidable in its character, and largely in the
majority in some quarters. It was formed in the United States some time before
the year 1840, but did not become strong or very prominent until the dissolution
of the Whig party in 1853.
The party was a strong one, as it was a secret political order, whose members
were oath-bound, and which had its lodges or "councils," its signs,
grips and passwords, and worked secretly to accomplish its openly professed
objects. It was composed chiefly of old Whigs, although there were many
ex-Democrats in its ranks. Its great basic principle was that "Americans
must rule America;" in other words, that no one but native-born citizens of
the United States, and non-Catholic, ought to hold office. After a time the
clause in the platform against Catholics was stricken out, except in regard to
those who held to the supremacy of the Pope in temporal affairs. It also favored
a radical change in the naturalization laws, insisting on a foreigner's twenty
years' residence in this country as a prerequisite to citizenship.
The lodges of the Know Nothing were called "councils." In this
county, among others, there were councils at Chillicothe, Utica and Spring Hill.
It is said that one of the hailing signs of the Know Nothings was " Have
you seen Sam?" meaning it is presumed, "Uncle Sam," the mythical
personage supposed to represent the government of the United States. The
American flag was always present in the council rooms, and the Federal
constitution was a part of the constitution of the order.
For many years the Native American party was a prominent and important factor
in politics, but the influence and strength of the foreign and Catholic vote of
the country were of course always against it, and these and other influences
destroyed it in a few years.
The building of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad through the county in
1858-59, was an event of much importance (see sketch of the road elsewhere). It
gave to the county communication with the outside world, brought in hundreds of
emigrants, revived and created business enterprises, built up the towns of
Chillicothe and Utica, and marked a new era in the progress and general welfare
of the people. The new enterprise cost the county but a trifling sum, and was of
the greatest advantage. John Graves, of Chillicothe, was the largest subscriber,
his subscription being $1,000 at the first, and this was afterwards increased.
This volume will be read by many in days to come who can not comprehend that
human slavery once existed in Livingston county and Missouri. For the benefit of
those, and because it is a legitimate portion of the county's history, it may be
proper to describe in these pages the institution of slavery as it existed here
and generally throughout Missouri.
In 1860, out of a total population of 7,417, the number of slaves in
Livingston county was 705, nearly one-tenth of the entire population. The
proportion of slaves was small compared with some other counties in the State,
notably those along the Missouri river in the hemp district. In Chariton the
number of slaves was 2,889; total population, 12,562. In Carroll there were
1,068; total population, 9,768. In Grundy there were 245; total population,
7,887. The whole number in this county were held by less than 200 families. The
institution was not profitable here.
Slavery in this county was transplanted from Kentucky and Virginia. Certain
families owned slaves in those States, and carried them along when they came to
the new country. Nearly all that were ever here came with their masters or were
natives of the county. Few were ever brought here and sold on speculation. Many
were taken out of the county and sold to go into the far South, but there was no
profit in bringing them here for sale. Negroes are known to be prolific when
surrounded by favorable circumstances, and they increased very rapidly under the
workings and practices of the system. Many slave girls became mothers at
The slave owners worked their slaves for profit. Slavery to them was not only
social power and supremacy, but it was wealth and a source of wealth. The
slaveholder therefore worked his slaves to the best possible advantage for gain.
Men and women worked in the fields here, as they did in the cotton fields of
Mississippi. They were provided with comfortable cabins, with coarse but
comfortable clothing, with a sufficiency of food, and medical attendance was
furnished them when they were sick. The self-interest of the master prompted
this, if his humanity did not. It was rare in this county that a master
overworked and underfed his slaves, or treated them with extreme harshness and
Slaves were property and rated a part of a man's personal estate, as his
horses were. To be sure they were regarded as something more than brood mares
and stallions, though their value, in a certain sense was the same -
proportionate to their increase. This could not he avoided. The owner of land
had a right to its annual profits, the owner of orchards to their annual fruits,
and under the law the owner of female slaves was entitled to their children.
While in Louisiana and perhaps another State slaves were real estate, in
Missouri they were chattels. Though no attention was given to their education,
their religious instruction was not neglected, and they were encouraged to hold
meetings and to conduct revivals and prayer meetings, and in particular the
Pauline precept, "Servants, obey your masters," was constantly cited
to them as one of the teachings and commands of the Bible.
The domestic relations of the slaves were regulated more with regard to
convenience than what would be considered propriety in these days. Marriages
between them were not made matters of record. Quite frequently no ceremony was
said at all - the parties simply "took up." Occasionally the husband
belonged to one master, the wife to another. But in most instances the family
relation was observed, or at least imitated. Husband and wife occupied one
cabin, where they brought up children and lived after the fashion of to-day. The
husband and wife not only did not have to provide for themselves, but they were
not expected to provide for their children. That was the master's care and duty.
The husband was usually satisfied with one wife - at a time. There was not
that laxity of morals concerning the connubial relations here that existed in
the far South. There were numbers of mulatto children, and quadroons and
octoroons - as there are to-day - because there were depraved and libidinous men
then - as there are now. Sometimes a father owned as slaves his own daughters,
whose children had for fathers their mothers' half-brothers. But these cases
were rare. The Northern Abolitionists exaggerated and magnified the existence of
evils of this sort. Usually the fathers of mulatto children were depraved and
disreputable white men who were not the owners of slaves.
While there was frequently a harsh master, the instances of down-right
cruelty to the slaves in this county were rare. There were cruel masters, as
there are cruel husbands and fathers, but the rule was that slave-owners were
considerate, reasonable and just. Cruelty and inhumanity toward slaves were
grave offenses against the law. As early as in April, 1841, Wm. C. Davis, of
this county, was indicted for inhumanly treating a slave, and it required the
best efforts of his counsel, R. D. Ray (now Supreme Judge) and Amos Reese, to
prevent his being severely punished.
It was necessary that there should be discipline, but this was enforced with
as few rigors as possible. In every municipal township there were patrols,
appointed by the county court, whose duties were to patrol their respective
townships a certain number of times per month, and to keep a watch and scrutiny
upon the movements of the negroes.
As remarked on another page of this volume, eternal vigilance was the price
of slavery. The slaves required continual oversight. There were restive spirits
among them with ideas of freedom whose movements had to be restrained; all
insubordination had to be repressed; all loafing and prowling for the purpose of
petty larceny had to be broken up and reproved. After the Southampton
insurrection and the fearful murders of Nat Turner and his followers, in 1831,
"risings" and insurrections were feared wherever there were
considerable communities of slaves. To prevent as far as possible any trouble
among or about the slaves was the office of the patrols. They made their rounds
- one of their number being a leader or "captain" - as nearly as
possible at unexpected times and suddenly. No slave was allowed off the farm
where he belonged or was employed after 9 o'clock at night without a written
pass from his master or employer. All offenders of this class were made
prisoners and punished.
The first patrols in Livingston county were appointed for Greene township in
November, 1844. Asa T. Kirtley was "captain," and the patrols (or
"pattarollers," as the record calls them) were W. E. Rucker, Addison
Rucker, John Rockhold, F. Lyday, E. N. Guill and Warren Hudgins. The squad was
ordered to patrol at least 36 hours in each month, for twelve months.
The negroes had their seasons of happiness, and on the whole it is perhaps
nothing but the truth to say that their average physical condition when in
slavery was as good as it is to-day. The state of some of them was better.
Sentimental considerations must be left to others. They had their dances, their
frolics, and their assemblages of various sorts. Corn huskings were made
occasions of merriment and diversion. In 1840 or later there was a custom, when
the huge pile of corn was husked, to take up the master and bear him on the
shoulders of the huskers at the head of a procession which marched around the
premises singing songs improvised at the time, and so called "corn
These " corn songs " were sung while the slaves were at work in the
tobacco fields, the hemp fields, the wheat fields, as well as at the huskings.
They were commonly without rhyme or reason, but were sung with great volume and
sometimes with much melody.
In 1865, when the slaves were freed, the majority of them left their masters
and mistresses and set about doing for themselves. Very many went to the cities
and towns, preferring town life to rural life. Hundreds left the State, many
going to Iowa and Illinois, where were plenty of anti-slavery people from whom
they expected much substantial sympathy and assistance - but they did not
receive it. Numbers believed that not only were they to receive their freedom,
but that in some way the Government was to compensate them for their term of
servitude. A. few are said to be yet looking for the "forty acres of land
and a mule."
Slavery received its death blow when the Civil War began - so it turned out.
As elsewhere stated numbers of slaves left their masters in 1862 and 1863. Even
the slaves of Unionists ran away. When in 1865 by Legislative enactment and the
adoption of the XIII. Amendment all slaves in this State were set free, there
was a great deal of discontent in this county. Men declared rashly that they
would not rent a negro a foot of land, or render him any sort of aid in his
efforts to make a living, but in time this feeling passed away, the situation
was accepted, and now there is but the merest handful of persons who would
re-establish slavery if they had the power.
In very many respects the Presidential campaign of 1860 was the most
remarkable, not only in the history of Livingston county, but of the United
States. Its character was affected not only by preceding but succeeding events.
Among the former were the excited and exciting debates in Congress over the
repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska controversy; the
passage by the Legislatures of various Northern States of the "personal
liberty bills," which rendered inoperative in those States the fugitive
slave law; the John Brown raid on Harper's Ferry, in the fall of 1859, and
various inflammatory speeches of prominent leaders of the Republican and
Democratic parties in the North and in the South.
There was the greatest excitement throughout the country, and when it was in
full tide the Presidential canvass opened. The slavery question was the
all-absorbing one among the people. The Republican party, while it had not
received a single vote in Livingston county, had carried a large majority of the
Northern States in the canvass of 1856, and every year since had received large
accessions to its ranks, and under the circumstances, there being great
dissension in the Democratic party, prognosticating a split, bade fair to elect
its candidates. The Democratic Convention at Charleston, South Carolina, April
28, after a stormy and inharmonious session of some days, divided, and the
result was the nomination of two sets of candidates - Stephen A. Douglass and
Herschel V. Johnson for President and Vice-President, by the
"regulars," and John C. Breckinridge and Joseph Lane by the Southern
or State Rights wing of the party.
The "Constitutional Union" party, made up of old Whigs, Know
Nothings, and some conservative men of all parties, nominated John Bell, of
Tennessee, and Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, on a platform composed of a
single line - " The Union, the Constitution and the enforcement of the
The Republican party was the last to bring out its candidates. It presented
Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin, on a platform declaring, among other
things, that each State had the absolute right to control and manage its own
domestic institutions; denying that the constitution, of its own force, carried
slavery into the territories, whose normal condition was said to be that of
freedom. Epitomized, the platform meant hostility towards the extension of
slavery, non-interference where it really existed.
It was to be expected that Missouri, being the only border Slave State lying
contiguous to the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, should be deeply concerned
in the settlement of the slavery question. Her people or their ancestors were
very largely from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and other slaveholding States,
and many of them owned slaves or were otherwise interested in the preservation
of slavery, to which institution the success of the Republican party, it was
believed, would be destructive. There were many of this class in Livingston
county. There was not only a selfish motive for the friendliness toward the
"Peculiar Institution," but a sentimental one. It was thought to be
unmanly to yield to Northern sentiment of a threatening shape or coercive
character. If slavery was wrong (which was denied) it must not be assailed at
the dictation of Northern Abolitionists.
The canvass in the State was very spirited. The division in the Democratic
party extended into Missouri. The Democratic State Convention nominated
Claiborne F. Jackson, of Saline county, for Governor. The Bell and Everett party
nominated at first Robert Wilson, of Andrew, and on his withdrawal, Hon. Sample
Orr, of Greene county. Judge Orr was selected in the room of Mr. Wilson by the
Very soon the politicians began a series of maneuvers desired to develop
Jackson's views on the main question before the country, and especially as to
which of the two Democratic Presidential candidates he favored. For a long time
the wily Saline county statesman succeeded in evading the question and defining
his position; but at last the Missouri Republican and other Douglass
organs "smoked him out." He announced in a well written communication
that he was for Douglass, because he believed him to be the regular and fairly
chosen nominee of the party; but at the same time he announced himself in favor
of the principles of the Breckinridge party. He was called by some who disliked
him, "a Douglass man with Breckinridge tendencies," "a squatter
sovereign on an anti-squatter sovereignty platform," etc.
When, Jackson's letter appeared soon thereafter, the Breckinridge men called
a State convention and put in nomination Hancock Jackson, of Howard, for
Governor, and Monroe M. Parsons, of Cole, for Lieutenant-Governor.
Being encouraged by the feuds in the Democratic party, the Bell and Everett
men had high hopes of electing their gubernatorial candidate at the August
election, and carrying the State for "Bell, of Tennessee," the ensuing
November. To this end they did everything possible to foment additional discord
and widen the breach between the two wings of their opponents; but they overdid
the business. The Democrats saw through their tactics, and agreeing to disagree
as to Presidential candidates, practically united in the support of Jackson and
Reynolds at the August election, and triumphantly elected them by a plurality of
about 10,000. The vote stood: C. F. Jackson, Douglass Democrat, 74,446; Sample
Orr, Bell and Everett, 64,583; Hancock Jackson, Breckinridge Democrat, 11,415;
J. B. Gardenhire, Republican, 6,135.
Following was the vote in Livingston county: -
Governor - C. F. Jackson, 840; Sample Orr, 583; Hancock Jackson, 37.
Congress - John B. Clark, Sr., Dem., 806; M: C. Hawkins, Bell-Everett, 646.
The vote, by township, for the leading county officers is herewith appended.
The regular Democratic nominees are marked D; the Bell-Everett or " Union
" candidates are marked U. For county judges, Hon. J. A. Davis was an
independent candidate, and received the votes generally of the Bell-Everett men.
|S. L. Harris
|J. A. Davis
Vote for Governor by townships can not be found.
Other county officers elected were G. W. Knox, assessor; J. B. McDonald,
treasurer; A. Bargdoll, school commissioner.
Nothing daunted by their defeat in August, the Bell and Everett men in
Missouri kept up the fight for their Presidential candidates, and came within a
few hundred votes of carrying the State for them in November, the vote standing:
For the Douglas electors, 58,801; for the Bell electors, 58,372; for the
Breckinridge electors, 31,317; for the Lincoln electors, 17,028; Douglas'
majority over Bell, 429, over Breckinridge, 27,484.
It is said that many Democrats voted for Bell because they thought he was the
only candidate that could beat Lincoln. In the October elections the Republicans
had carried Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. and Lincoln's election was almost
inevitable. Fusion tickets against the Republicans had been formed in New York,
New Jersey and other States, and many thought the Tennessee statesman might be
elected after all.
Following was the vote in this county at the Presidential election, 1860: -
The news of the election of Lincoln and Hamlin was received by the people of
this county generally with dissatisfaction; but aside from the utterances of
some ultra pro-slavery men, there were general expressions of a willingness to
except and abide by the result - at least to watch and wait. A number of
citizens avowed themselves unconditional Union men from the first. Upon the
secession of South Carolina and other Southern States, however, many changed
their views. Indeed, there was nothing certain about the sentiments of men in
those days, but one thing - they were liable to change! Secessionists one week
became Union men the next, and vice versa. There was withal a universal
hope that civil war might be averted.
Already the best men of the country feared for the fate of the republic.
Northern fanatics and Southern fire-eaters were striving to rend it assunder.
The former did not want to live in a country (so they said) whereof one-half
depended on the begetting and bringing up of children for the slave market, and
so the constitution which permitted slavery was denominated an instrument of
infamy, and the flag of the stars and stripes denounced as a flaunting lie. The
fire-eaters of the South were blustering and complaining that their
"rights" had been or were about to be trampled on by the North, and
therefore they were for seceding and breaking up the government, which they
could not absolutely control.
A majority of the people of the county, it is safe to say, believed that the
best interests of Missouri were identical with those of the other slaveholding
States, but they were in favor of waiting for developments of the policy of the
new administration before taking any steps leading to the withdrawal of the
State from the Federal Union. "Let us wait and see what Lincoln will
do," was the sentiment and expression of a large number. A respectable
minority were in favor of immediate secession, and so declared publicly.
"Missouri is a peninsula of slavery running out into a sea of
freedom," said Gov. Rob Stewart, 1861. It was bounded on three sides by
Free States, and "Black Republican" States at that - Kansas, Iowa and
Illinois. Should she secede and become a part of a foreign nation her condition,
as suffering from Northern Abolitionists and slave liberators, would be
aggravated. Where one negro ran away while the State remained a part of the
Union, ten might be expected to "skedaddle" if she seceded. Thus
argued certain Pro-Slavery men at the time.
One of the 20 men who voted for Lincoln in Livingston county, at the
Presidential election in 1860, was Rev. J. E. Gardner, a minister of the M. E.
church, who some time previously had been sent into this county, and who had
located at Utica. "Northern Methodists," as they are sometimes called,
were few in number and in bad odor at that day in Missouri. As a rule they were
opposed to slavery, though but few openly demanded its abolition, and the people
generally were very sensitive on this subject. (See Caldwell County History,
Chap. XVII. )
At this time (fall of 1860) Utica contained about 600 inhabitants, two dry
goods stores, two groceries, one drug store, one hotel, two saloons, a
school-house, and one church. The latter was owned by the Baptists, but the use
of it was allowed to all other denominations except the "Northern
Methodists," who occasionally held services in the school-house. Public
sentiment in the town was largely against Mr. Gardner. He was denounced as a
"North Methodist," a "Lincolnite," an Abolitionist, and was
accused of tampering with the slaves, treating them as his equals, etc. A few
weeks after the election he was presented with the following communication: -
Utica, Mo., December 20, 1860.
Mr. Gardner - Sir: - At a meeting of the citizens of Livingston Co.,
Mo., it was unanimously resolved that notice be given you that your longer
residence in our county is not desired by our citizens, and that you he required
to leave this county this date within three days from this date. (Signed)
Henry L. Todd,
P. D. Smith,
T. T. Dannell,
John N. Stone,
Saml. D. Shaffer,
John A. Schmitt,
Wm. Frazer, Jr.,
R. W. Todd,
W. F Bramel,
|G. A. Stone, Jr.,
S. M. Maxy,
G. W. McMillen,
J. F. Foor
J. C. Lukins,
A. J. Austin,
W. R. Wood,
Isaac W. Gibson,
G. P. Foor,
W. T. Bramel,
R. P. Wiley,
T. F. Prewitt,
H. W. Broughton.
It is worthy of note that some of the signers afterwards became themselves
strong anti-slavery men, and were regarded as truly loyal during the Civil War.
A few days later another meeting was held to consider Mr. Gardner's case, he
having protested against being driven away. The meeting was held in the
school-house and addressed by Mr. Black and Hon. A. J. Austin. A committee
brought Mr. Gardner before the meeting, where the following written charges were
presented against him: -
Charge l. You are a preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church North, sent among us without our consent and supported by Northern money, sent out by a religious denomination, whose doctrine is to war upon the domestic institutions of the South.
Charge 2. You are the only man in our community who voted for Lincoln, and you have publicly declared that you would glory in making yourself a martyr to the cause of Abolitionism.
Charge 3. You have had frequent interviews with the slaves of this
county, and you invited a number of them to the country and gave them a dinner,
after preaching, as your equals.
To these charges Mr. Gardner replied: -
1. I am not a preacher of the M. E. Church North, as there is no such church in existence. Neither am I supported by Northern money, but by the people to whom I am sent to preach. Our doctrine is not to war upon the domestic institutions of the State, for in our Book of Discipline we acknowledge ourselves obedient to the laws of the land.
2. I did vote for Mr. Lincoln, but did not, either publicly or privately, declare that I would glory in making myself a martyr to the cause of Abolitionism.
3. I never had an interview with slaves, or gave them a dinner, making them my equals. I therefore challenge the proof, as the onus probandi rests on you; and until you bring that I stand with the law to defend me.
J. E. Gardner.
Gardner then retired and in a short time a committee of two waited on him and
presented him the following, in writing, as the action of the meeting: -
SATURDAY, December 22, 1860.
The committee, on due deliberation, passed the following resolution unanimously: That Mr. Gardner be notified, for the welfare of this community, to leave our county three days from and after Monday next, which time will expire on Wednesday next at 6 o'clock p. m.
Wm. E. Mead,
To Mr. J. E. GARDNER, Utica, Livingston county, Mo.
There was great excitement throughout the town. Many of the citizens wholly
disapproved the action of the lawless element. The same night a meeting of the
conservative men of the town was held. The proceedings of the would-be
regulators were denounced, and even Mr. Austin, the Representative elect, was
censured for having countenanced and advised them. An organization of "law
and order" was effected. A constitution was drawn up, signed by many,
declaring a determination to "discountenance and put down raw violence, and
to persist in the maintenance of the laws of the State, as the only hope for the
protection of civil citizens." This organization took Mr. Gardner's case in
hand, and a compromise was at last effected, whereby he was given ten days in
which to leave.
Meantime the minister's wife, Mrs. Amanda Gardner, was furnishing the organ
of the M. E. Church, the Central Christian Advocate, with communications
descriptive of the situation at Utica. Her letters were published and copied
into other journals, and, of course, commented on throughout the North. Copies
of Mrs. Gardner's printed letters are before the writer, having been preserved
by certain citizens of the county. Of the mobbing of Mr. Gardner, after the
compromise referred to, and of the preceding circumstances she gives the
following account: -
The settlement had been made on condition that we were to leave in ten days;
but this compromise was not made known to us, and therefore we were unprepared
to meet it. We had just returned from holding watch meeting, where we entered
upon the year 1861 with new resolutions to live for God and the interests of the
Thursday, January 3d, we were preparing to start on the next day to another
protracted meeting, which was to be held seven miles from Utica. Mr. Gardner was
butchering, and I was engaged with my housework, when one of our friends
hastened to inform us that the mob was then collected and would be on us in five
minutes. We could scarcely credit the report; but he had hardly got out of sight
when from my window I saw the rabble coming. They were armed with rifles,
shot-guns, revolvers and knives. I called to Mr. Gardner; he hastened into the
house, bolted the floor and chose a position where he could defend himself and
They surrounded the house, some rushing to the doors and others to the
windows. Jack Stone(constable) rapped at the door. I asked, "Who is
there?" He answered, "A friend," and said that he wished to speak
with Mr. Gardner. I told him they could not see him until they came in a
different manner, and asked, as a favor, that they would withdraw and not
disturb our peace. At this they shouted like demons. Some cried, "Burst the
door!" Others, "Break in the windows!" One Cooper gave ten
minutes by his watch for Mr. Gardner to promise to leave the country within 24
hours, or have the house burned down over our heads, and ordered a bunch of hay
brought to kindle the fire.
They declared they had given us ten days to leave the county, and the time
was up, and now they were determined that Mr. Gardner should give them a pledge
to that effect, or they would hang him. I endeavored to reason with them from my
window, and told them that according to their own arrangement they were one day
before their time, which would not expire until Friday, January 4, at 6 o'clock
p. m., and that we intended going to the country at that time, as Mr. Gardner
had an appointment and the friends would be in for us; but I only received
curses in reply. They appeared, however, to be somewhat confused, some declaring
that they were before their time, while others thought not. At length they
agreed to leave, and gave us until noon the next day for our exit, declaring
that if we were not gone at that time they would accept no compromise.
When they had gone Mr. Gardner proceeded to finish his work, and we thought
we would get out of the place as soon as possible, as it was anything but
desirable to live in such a state of things.
In the afternoon Mr. Gardner had business in town which he could not well put
off. On stepping into a store he was asked in reference to the truth of the
matter, when a conversation arose respecting the unlawfulness of such a course.
There was present a Mr. Austin, who slipped out, unnoticed by Mr. Gardner, and
informed the rabble where he was. Ere he was aware, he was surrounded by the
mob, insulted and abused, and preparations immediately made to take him.
Mr. Gardner, seeing no chance to defend himself, endeavored to get home by
going out of the store through the back way, but no sooner was he out than
he was surrounded on all sides by the mob, who came upon him with drawn
revolvers. He was violently seized, a "Lincoln rail" was ordered, upon
which they forced him and proceeded to rail-ride him. Tumultuous shouts
of "North Preacher," "Lincolnite," "Nigger thief,"
etc., were raised. While some were clamorous for "tar and feathers"
others shouted for a rope!
Thus was a minister of the gospel insulted and abused in a land of Bibles and
Christian institutions! Mr. Gardner let no opportunity slip, but as they carried
him through the streets he exhorted the rabble and those who thronged about him
to flee the wrath to come. Above the clamor of the mob was heard his voice as he
held up the cross of Christ and His sufferings for a world of sinners, and that
His servants should not be ashamed to suffer reproach for His name's sake. After
he had finished his exhortation he sang:
"Children of the Heavenly King,
As we journey, let us sing," etc.
[A strange spectacle, truly. A minister of the gospel being ridden on a rail
and exclaiming, "As we journey, let us sing! "]
Some tried to mock. One by the name of Schaffer swore he would
"make him shut his mouth," at the same time striking him on the
shoulder-blade with large ball of ice, crippling him for the time being. They
shortly called a halt and let Mr. Gardner down to consider what further measures
By this time I had got our little Allie (who was taken sick that morning) in
the care of a lady friend, and made my way through the snow, which was eight
inches deep, to where they had him in custody. * * * I walked into their midst
and demanded the deliverance of my husband, informing them that I would die with
him or have him released. Through the interposition of Mr. John Harper and Mr.
Wm. Wells, Mr. Gardner was permitted to go home, accompanied by them, who
advised us to leave as soon as possible, as we would not be safe. We assured
them we would go if possible - not because it was just, but as the only hope of
saving our lives. They told us that unless they could take a pledge to that
effect to the mob we would not be safe until morning; we gave it and were then
left to ourselves.
Friday, January 4, we were taken to the country by Brother P. Rudolph, where we were kindly treated. We have been received into the house with Brother and Sister Dalton, and have once more got through with the labors of another move. While I write for the Central, under the excitement of the occasion, I have also a sick child on my hands. * * * Mr. Gardner commenced suit in Chillicothe against the leaders of the mob, but a mob was raised there and compelled 'Squire Hughes, before whom the case was to be tried, to burn the papers. So, it is evident that there is no law, either in Utica or Chillicothe, to protect persons belonging to the M. E. Church.
UTICA, Mo., January 15, 1861.